Category Archives: #sketcholics

Easter Celebration in Spain : Torrija

Locally known as Semana Santa (Holy Week), Easter is the most important celebration in Spain, and stands out for its epic brotherhoods’ processions and unique, age-old traditions specific to each region.

Srapallo, watercolor, Casa de las Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.
Srapallo, watercolor, Casa de las Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.

The atmosphere that characterizes the festivities is usually solemn, the picture spectacular, and everything seems fully immersed in emotion. Don’t let yourself be fooled, though – this is still Spain, which means neither the strong religious beliefs nor the somberness of the moment can hide the nation’s fervor for pomp and lively fiestas.

These being said, let’s take a closer look at the distinctive customs and traditions that accompany Semana Santa in various Spanish provinces.

Here, the most important Catholic holiday is commemorated with a week full of color, art, religious fervor, and extravagant processions. The most spectacular events take place in Malaga and Seville, where the streets are taken over by flamboyant parades and intricate religious displays depicting biblical scenes.

Like everywhere in Spain, the festivities begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most dramatic and passionate parades held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

While the Semana Santa festivities in Andalusia are the most spectacular, the ones in Castile and León are often regarded as some of the most authentic, solemn, and austere in the entire country. Among the cities that hold remarkable processions are León, Zamora, Salamanca, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, and Valladolid.

This scrumptious calorific treat is traditionally eaten in Spain over Easter.

Madrid-based food blogger Anneke Kooijmans shares a recipe for the classic Spanish Easter dish Torrijas with The Local which she describes as “like French toast, but different…”

Srapallo, watercolor, Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.
Srapallo, watercolor, Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.

TORRIJAS
(Serves two)

Torrijas are a Spanish Easter dessert, they are like French Toast, but different.

Ingredients:

250 milliliters milk
Zest of one lemon
¼ bar of French bread, in thick slices
1 egg, lightly beaten, in a shallow bowl
Good quality olive oil
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup water
1 tablespoon honey
Kitchen towels

I hope you enjoy and Happy Easter!!!!!

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Sala de Despiece – A laboratory gastronomique

Again a must in my neighbourhood ….I’m never tired to mention that, how much I love Chamberi….

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018
SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018

First you don’t understand what’s going on. This tapas bar has a unique concept, I never saw anything like this elsewhere. What the heck is this place?. Looks like you are in a butchery, in a meal treatment place… looks like industrial, like you are eating in a cutting room.

The other thing the caught your attention is… you need to help to finish the preparation of you own meal… they show you how to do it and you have to do it yourself if you wanna eat. …. So, you need to help finalize your own food…. and that experience is very enjoyable, and the server helps your with the torch… everything looks like you are eating in a gastronomique laboratory. Like they said It’s a white spotless space, inspired by the cutting areas from butcher´s shops or fish markets. Such spotless spirit is maintained by the team’s white aprons, and a space barely touched by decorative details paying tribute to the butcher’s profession.

Sala de Despiece
Calle de Ponzano, 11, Chamberi

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017
SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017

+34.917.52.61.06

Website: http://www.saladedespiece.com/en/sala-de-despiece/

They don’t accept reservations. At Sala de Despiece counter seating is assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Go there and enjoy the lab experience, I guarantee you won’t regret.

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Eremita de San Frutos (Saint Fructus) – Sepúlveda/Segovia

There are only reminiscing of the church itself. Saint Fructus (Spanish: San Fruitos, Frutos, Fructos) was a Castilian hermit of the eighth century venerated as a saint. Christian tradition states that he had two siblings, named Valentine (Valentín) and Engratia (Engracia). They all lived as hermits on a mountain in the region of Sepúlveda. Engratia should not be confused with the 4th-century Portuguese martyr of the same name.

Born in the 7th century to a noble family of Segovia, Fructus and his two siblings sold their family possessions after their parents’ death and gave the earnings to poor. Wishing to escape from the city and the turbulent times, they established themselves on the rocky terrain near the village of Sepulveda now known as the Hoces del Duratón, where they lived apart from one another in caves that ensured them complete solitude.

Tradition holds that Valentine and Engratia were later martyred around 715 by advancing Moorish forces, and that Fructus died of natural causes in the same year at the age of 73.

Legends

A legend states that some locals, wishing to join Fructus in his retreat to his death, traveled there, only to be pursued by Moorish forces to the very door of Fructus’ hermitage. Fructus attempted to convert the Muslim soldiers, but without success. The legend goes on to state that Fructus drew a line across the earth, asking that the Moorish forces not cross it. When they ignored him and attempted to cross, the earth miraculously opened up to swallow them up, at a crack in the rock now called La Cuchillada. From that point on, the Moors did not bother Fructus.[2]

Veneration

They are venerated as the patron saints of Segovia, where their relics are enshrined and are recognized as saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome.

Fructus, Valentine and Engratia are commemorated on 25 October by Western Rite Orthodox communities, and in the Roman Catholic Church.

Their relics were conserved in the hermitage of San Frutos from the 8th century to the 11th, when they were translated to Segovia Cathedral. The area of Fructus’ hermitage suffered various political and military vicissitudes; this area was conquered by Fernán González before being annexed by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 984. It fell to Christian control once again in 1011 through the efforts of Sancho García of Castile, and in 1076 was repopulated by Alfonso VI of Castile. By the 1070s, the Benedictines had established a church in honor of Saint Fructus in the area, as well as an adjoining monastery.

On the night of October 24 is celebrated the procession in honor of Fructus known as the Paso de la Hoja (“Turn of the Page”). A sculpture of Fructus rests in a niche in this cathedral. This sculpture has Fructus holding a book; according to local legend, it is the “Book of Life”: when Fructus turns to the last page, the world will end.

Fructus’ feast day is celebrated with music and contests, and devotees also celebrate his feast day at the park of Hoces del Río Duratón, where they accompany a statue of Fructus.

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Sorolla, el pintor de la luz

One of my favorite´s  place to sketch  in Madrid. The Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla was born on February 27, 1863 in Valencia, Spain. The artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. It is situated at Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37 -Chamberí – Madrid.

Sorolla’s work is represented in museums throughout Spain, Europe, America, and in many private collections in Europe and America. In 1909 he made a successful debut in the United States in a solo exhibition at the Hispanic Society in New York City. The resulting critical acclaim won him a commission to paint President William Howard Taft in 1909. In 1933, J. Paul Getty purchased ten Impressionist beach scenes made by Sorolla, several of which are now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In 1960, Sorolla, el pintor de la luz, the master of depicting sun and water, a short documentary written and directed by Manuel Domínguez was presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2007 many of his works were exhibited at the Petit Palais in Paris. In 2009, there was a special exhibition of his works at the Prado in Madrid, and in 2010, the exhibition visited the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil.

From 5 December 2011 to 10 March 2012, several of Sorolla’s works were exhibited in Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, in New York. This exhibition included pieces used during Sorolla’s eight-year research for The Vision of Spain. His style was a variant of Impressionism and whose best works, painted in the open air, vividly portray the sunny seacoast of Valencia. Sorolla was from a poor family and was orphaned at age two. He displayed an early talent and was admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at age 15. After further studies in Rome and Paris, he returned to Valencia.

Upon his return to Spain, he purchased a beach house in Valencia, on the Mediterranean shore. For the rest of his career, he drew his inspiration from the dazzling light on the waters by his home, and his beach scenes are marked by sharp contrasts of light and shade, brilliant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes. That´s why he is called the ¨painter of the light¨ (el pintor de la luz).

The Museo Sorolla – The building was originally the artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. Designed by Enrique María Repullés. The principal rooms continue to be furnished as they were during the artist’s life, including Sorolla’s large, well-lit studio, where the walls are filled with his canvasses. Other rooms are used as galleries to display Sorolla’s paintings, while the upstairs rooms are a gallery for special exhibitions. In 2014, these rooms held an exhibition of David Palacin photographs of the ballet Sorolla produced by the Spanish National Dance Company.

It´s nice to see the actual place where he lived and produced so many of his artworks. There is also a nice entrance garden with a fountain where you can just seat there and make some sketches while admire the flowers and statues.

Don´t forget to visit this small museum if you have a chance on your next trip to Madrid. You won´t regret it!!

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St Valentine’s Day in Spain

It’s not a traditional holiday in Spain, but most of the places in the world celebrate it with the traditional bouquet of flowers and romantic diners. the closest concept about it is from people of Valencia and their most romantic day of the year is, in fact, October 9th, when they celebrate both; the Day of the Valencian Community (Sant Valentin) as well as the Day of Saint Dionysius (Sant Dionís), locally known as the patron saint of lovers. This is a public holiday marked by many festivities and colorful costume parades held in the main plaza of every town and village.

A distinctive tradition on the Day of Saint Dionysius is the custom of offering ladies a Mocadora (Mocaorà) as a sign of love and appreciation. This traditional gift consists of a nice package of marzipan figurines handcrafted by local confectioners and then wrapped up in an elegant piece of silk.

In the Land of Cervantes, you don’t need a reason to get caught up in the fire and romance of Spain. The whole country is teeming with spectacular parks and gardens that inspire love.

Here is the recipe.

INGREDIENTS
150 grams of ground almonds
135 grams of sugar glass
1 egg white
30 grams of mashed potato
Pastry dyes and flavor extract of each fruit. Cocoa powder
If you have too much thickened water
Some pine nuts to decorate

Start boling a potato and make a very fine mashed potato. Set it apart to use later. Beat the egg white to the point of very compact snow. Until the container is turned over, it stays well attached and does not fall. Add the icing sugar and mix well taking into account that the point does not get off. Add the mashed potato and almond flour and knead well. Distribute the dough in as many portions as we want to make different figurines and add to each portion the fruit dye, the flavor extract and let it rest for a while before making them. Take the dough and mold with the fingers the desired figures. Place in a tray and let dry a few hours and if you want to follow the tradition, wrap them in a neck scarf and give them away. If you have more dyes and flavor extracts, you can make pears, lemons, oranges, strawberries … Go on, you are totally allowed to just play with them and make fruits for the ones you love!

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Santiago de Compostela (El camino) or The Way of St. James

This is my first blog in 2018. My last one was in June 2017. I had my personal journey fighting against cervical cancer last year and I had no energy whatsoever to post anything. Well, I’m still here! But after surgery in July and the beginning of chemo at the end of August, I’ve manage to travel to  Galícia and visited the city of Santiago de Compostela and the surroudings cities, Muxia, Ézaro, Carnota, Corcubión, Muros, Noia and also Finisterre, the last post of pilgrimage. I confess I didn’t do the whole “camino” but, you know, due to the circumstance at that particular moment of my life, I was happy just being there and somehow feeling blessed. Spain is a wonderful country to travel, full of history, wonderful food and spectacular wineries. It’s an energetic country to feel alive and enjoy living!! Something like “La Fiesta” therapy.

I love traveling by car. From Madrid to Santiago de Compostela is like 5.2 hours driving and the sightseeing change completely from the arid weather in Castilla La Mancha to a humid and ultra green meadows in Galicia. And I love eating fresh products from local producers. I specially recommend “O Graneiro de Amelia” (www.ograneirodeamelia.gal) where you can buy grains, species, dry nuts, teas and herbs. The colors, the smell of species and honey…. indescribable!!! And don’t forget to eat the Almond Tart, also a local food tradition.

There are eight main Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain:

Camino Frances – the busiest route.
Via de la Plata – the longest Camino.
Camino del Norte – along the sea.
Camino Ingles The English Road – the shortest Camino.
Camino Portugues, (finishes in Santiago de Compostela but starts in Portugal).
Camino Primitivo. the original one.

Even if you don’t do the Camino, visit the city, the Cathedral and also Santa Maria la Real de Sar, a medieval church from XVI Century. From the cathedral’s balcony you can contemplate the beauty of the roofs and the city’s skyline. Unfortunately the frontal cathedral’s facade (The Obradoiro) is being restored and only will be re-opening on 2023. Well, I’ll have to come back somehow!

The Way of St. James (El Camino) was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sancti Iacobi, “Saint James”.)

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago.

Most pilgrims carry a document called the credencial, purchased for a few euros from a Spanish tourist agency, a church or parish house on the route, a refugio, their church back home, or outside of Spain through the national St. James organization of that country. The credencial is a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation in refugios along the trail. Also known as the “pilgrim’s passport”, the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, and serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).

The “Way of St James” is marked by a scallop shell, a symbol of humility that also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl. The pilgrim’s staff is a walking stick used by pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

Most often the stamp can be obtained in the refugio, cathedral, or local church. If the church is closed, the town hall or office of tourism can provide a stamp, as can nearby youth hostels or private St. James addresses. Many of the small restaurants and cafes along the Camino also provide stamps. Outside Spain, the stamp can be associated with something of a ceremony, where the stamper and the pilgrim can share information. As the pilgrimage approaches Santiago, many of the stamps in small towns are self-service due to the greater number of pilgrims, while in the larger towns there are several options to obtain the stamp.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago_de_Compostela

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